Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I don't Awana rock with you
My good pal over at Better Living through Bacon recently wrote about her six-year-old daughter's first (and last) visit to the Awana Clubs, a Kristian organization whose primary purpose seems to be scaring young children into believing in Jesus.
I'm sorry, but frightening six-year-olds into believing what you believe is simply not a legitimate use of religion in my book. Frankly, I think this kind of thing should be illegal.
I was raised as a Lutheran, although because we ended up attending the scarier Missouri Synod part of the church, I got a lot of the fire-and-brimstone education from which my more moderate Lutheran friends were spared.
It wasn't until I was attending a Lutheran college that I discovered mainstream Lutherans, you know, of the Sunday hot-dish church supper variety. We had none of that good stuff when I was a kid; for me, church was all about what would and wouldn't get you sent to Hell.
In my parents' defense, they would have put a stop to it if they'd known exactly what I was being taught in Sunday school and confirmation classes. Unfortunately, they were usually both too drunk to inquire. But that's another story.
One time when I was in 4th grade my school friend John Hagerson asked if I wanted to attend an Awana meeting with him. "Sure," I said, having no idea what "Awana" was. I was just usually game for anything that would get me out of the house.
When I arrived at the designated address I realized it was a church. "Oh," I said to the other kids there, "do you have to belong to a certain religion to go to this?" They all replied, in unison, "IT'S NON-DENOMINATIONAL!"
Well alrighty then!
There were some preliminary niceties, and then about 50 of us kids were seated inside the church and some guy was in front going on and on about how we needed to be "saved." Pretty soon he had all of us bow our heads to pray, and started asking which ones of us wanted to come up to the front to be "saved."
This was confusing to me. For starters, I had been going to Sunday school for several years by that point and had thought I was already "saved." Why was this guy acting like I needed to be saved again?
Furthermore, what exactly was he going to do to "save" me? Wasn't that God's job, not his?
After an uncomfortably long time sitting there with no one opting for eternal salvation, we were dismissed and the meeting was over. John came up to me holding two Snickers bars and handed me one. "This is our prize for me having convinced you to come tonight," he told me.
Oh, for crying out loud, I thought. Is this what this whole song and dance was about? You wanted a free candy bar? I smelled a scam.
I never went back. Those people gave me the creeps.